It was a chilly day in early April. The only flowers blooming were the skunk cabbages, and they normally bloom in February. It had been a cold winter and everything was behind. A brave band of science students, accompanied by supportive moms traveled down to southeastern Ohio to gather fossils on private property. A friend of the museum had invited us down for our first exploration. We were all very excited, but a little intimidated by the unknown. We were warmly greeted by our host and also got to meet one of his more unusual pets, a pot-bellied pig, as well as his two dogs. Then it was on to our destination. The previous days had rained heavily so the creek was running high and fast. The property owner waded in the water and drew up rocks filled with crinoids, but it was not safe for the rest of the crew so we climbed the cliffs instead. Well, not all of us climbed up the cliffs. The shale cliffs were in very fine layers with lots of clay and no roots to catch a foothold, so I was very impressed with the young people who could clamber up without any trouble. Everyone was in hard hats for this adventure! I gathered up rocks at the bottom of the cliffs and filled five-gallon buckets with treasures to take back to the lab. Everyone was glad when a bit of sun popped out later in the day and the younger folks took a break from rock hounding and played tag. The last task was loading up the van with buckets and gear. But had we found anything?
Fossil hunting is a little bit like looking for hidden pictures. Sometimes the object you see is very obvious and sometimes it only becomes obvious after a bit of washing and scrubbing and letting the light hit your rock at a good angle. Because everyone was a lot more unsure than myself that we had captured any treasures, I started working on a few of our rocks at home. I have a few pictures to share what I have found so far in our samples from the cliffs. I can hardly wait for the students to come back to class this week so I can help them see what they have found!! Perhaps you will come by the Center and check out our treasures.
Written by Cindy Julius